Welcome back to Retro Rerun Review. This week’s random selection is Can’t Hurry Love starring Nancy McKeon who you know as Jo from Facts of Life, and Mariska Hargitay, who you know as Lady Detective from Law & Order: SVU or maybe from being Jane Mansfield’s daughter.
The Show: Can’t Hurry Love
Ran for: A partial season. 19 episodes aired between September of ’95 and February of ’96.
What it’s about: A single woman living in New York City, looking for romance. This was the plot of 30% of all television shows and movies made between 1992 and 2003.
My relationship with it: Non-existent. Never heard of it. Feels like it might not even be real.
This Episode: Season 1, Episode 9— “Three Blind Dates”
Remember how last week I said that Fifteen’s theme song sounded like it was composed by a robot specifically designed to compose 80’s TV show theme songs? So, that exact same thing, except for 90’s sitcoms. This sounds like Frasier’s lightly jazzy intro made sweet, smoky love to Caroline in the City or something. It’s pretty horny and very 90s.
We open at a restaurant. There is a man sitting at a table and he has eaten 56 of something. There’s a poultry joke made, so I assume they’re talking about chicken wings? But I’m not sure. He’s eating with Annie (Nancy McKeon) who acts appalled by his gluttony. They start talking about dating, and the guy— who has a very stereotypical New York accent (he’s literally saying “yous” and that sort of thing)—says he wants to set her up “wit one-uh my friends, you know, yous all would gettalong so great, fughettaboudit,” etc. She says OK, sure, that’s fine, but if this happens, she gets to set him up with someone. SITCOM!!!
Hey, and here’s Mariska Hargitay! She looks super young because, well, she was. She picks up the bucket of bones and makes a pigeon joke, so I guess the guy— his name is Roger— was eating pigeon wings. Then, for some reason, a 4th person shows up at the table. The man says, “order me something big and nasty” and everyone laughs way too hard. He’s part of their group, I guess. Elliot— that’s the new guy— picks up the bucket of wings and says “hey Roger, looks like you forgot to suck the marrow out of these things” and again, the audience roars.
Everyone seems weirdly fixated on these chicken wings. Were they a new thing in 1995? Was Roger some sort of chicken wing trailblazer? Because now, if I’m at a table where someone is eating wings, 90% of our conversation does not revolve around eating the wings. In fact, no one says much beyond, “are those good wings?” I’m finding this all very strange.
Next we’re in an office and Annie is talking to a very rotund man in a red shirt and she says, “I hate to break it to you, but Fruit of the Loom just isn’t looking for a new apple right now,” so she is either a casting director or an extreme bitch. Oh, wait, okay, then she says, “in the meantime, how’d you like to be a janitor” and he says “okay” and begins immediately emptying wastebaskets, so I guess she is some sort of job placement specialist. Mariska Hargitay shows up, but I don’t think she works there, and oh, there’s Elliot. He works there, too. And the super stereotypical Italian bird-eating weirdo, he’s there, too.
Does everyone work at the same place? This is odd.
They’re exchanging blind date information, per their discussion from the first scene, and I swear to God, Roger actually says “fughettaboudit.” (I was kidding earlier, but he actually says it here.)
Anyway, they’ve written down all of each others’ blind date information on pieces of paper, mostly for laughter’s sake. There is some snappy banter and everyone gets their blind date info.
Now we’re watching as Roger shows up for his blind date. He rings the doorbell and, while waiting for his date to come, moistens his eyelashes. Is this a thing? His date opens the door and she has very short hair and pretty dorky looking glasses, but is otherwise perfectly normal looking. Roger, who is clearly an asshole, says, “if you need more time to get ready,” when we all KNOW she’s ready already! That’s the joke. They enter her house— despite the fact he said they had reservations at DeMazzio’s only three sentences before— and we see that they’ll be dining at her house, with… wait for it… HER WHOLE FAMILY! Zoinks.
We cut to Mariska Hargitay’s date. Well, she’s looking for her date, anyway. But she can’t find “Colin” at the crowded bar. She taps the shoulder of a random person which is not an action you or I would probably take, but we are not sitcom characters. It is a very butch lesbian-looking woman and Mariska Hargitay suggests that “some lipstick wouldn’t hurt.” This joke feels, I don’t know, dated. Anyway, Colin finally approaches HER. He is Peter Scolari from Bosom Buddies/Newhart/a thousand other things you’ve seen, and he is also actually, physically blind. We know because he has a tapping cane. (I wonder how many “blind date is blind” jokes have been made throughout the history of television. Is it 40% of all blind date episodes? Higher? Hmm.)
Back at the office, we’re with Elliot. See, the thing is, Elliot is married, and they’ve mentioned it several times already in this episode. A big to-do was made when Mariska Hargitay gave HIM a name on a piece of paper and then said, “your wife says it’s OK,” and he said, “haha, okay, SURE,” but then they called her and what the hell is going on, she said it was okay.
And now we know why. His “date” is a sassy 10-year-old girl. He is babysitting. See, earlier, he’d mentioned that his wife is pressuring him to have kids. So, here you go.
Meanwhile, back at Roger’s family-dinner date, he’s helping her cook in the kitchen. I’m not sure why she didn’t have all of the cooking done before he showed up, but it’s not my business, I guess. Anyway, she’s trying to kiss him in the kitchen and it is awkward. It is a very short scene.
Annie’s date Nick shows up at her door and he is smoking. She asks him not to smoke in her apartment and he drops his cigarette outside her front door which would be fine except that she lives in an apartment building, so I am assuming it is carpeted. He strokes her cheek and says “let’s go.” He looks and like the human version of a cartoon wolf who would be really into swing music.
The two with actual dates have decided to go on a double blind date, I guess, and it might be back at the restaurant from the first scene? It’s a bit hard to tell. The guys are maybe in the bathroom, and Annie and Mariska Hargitay (I swear they haven’t said her name yet) are both complaining, because their dates are shady and blind, respectively. We learn that the blind guy is deathly allergic to olives and then Annie’s date asks her to go shoot dice.
Elliot and his date are playing Go Fish. She gets mad and swipes all of the cards onto the floor. I’m still not sure who this little girl is or who decided to leave her with a stranger.
Okay, and Annie actually does go to play craps somewhere. It’s a casino in an apartment, maybe? Everyone in here is in the mob. This doesn’t seem very realistic, if you ask me. A joke is made about a furniture store having a “fire” sale, and nothing else really happens. All of these scenes are like, 30 seconds long.
Now we’re at the home-cooked family date with Roger again, and we catch him on the phone with a friend asking for a fake emergency call to be made. Only, thing is, Roger’s date comes in and hears it, too. He gets sauce on his shirt (or, as he’d call it, “gravy,” I guess), and she takes it off to clean it. They’re arguing and he’s slowly realizing that he’s a terrible chauvinist and I am sure his enlightenment will stick, long-term. The fake phone call comes through, but New Roger doesn’t want to take it. And, scene.
Back at the blind blind date, she asks, “seen any good movies lately,” which is a perfectly fine question to ask a visually impaired person, but not if you’re on a sitcom! WHOOPS! She grimaces and the audience laughs pretty hard. He responds with a joke about subtitles. Sure, why not. They are getting along, though, which is good. Some more blind jokes are made. Things are really rolling now.
Roger and his date are getting along now, too. She’s ironing his shirt and it’s one of those things where you walk in on a story that is almost to the punchline which is what makes it the joke. You know what I mean, the scene starts with him saying, “and so I says to ’em, I says…” That sort of thing. Anyway, they kiss. Feels like this all happened pretty fast if you ask me.
We’re visiting the blind blind date again and Peter Scolari has her blindfolded to teach her how to be blind. I’m not sure if this is something a real blind person would do, or why, but what do I know— I am sighted. He’s teaching her how to read a room without seeing anything. Predictably, it is not going well.
Back at the crap game (craps game?), Annie is doing great. She is making lots of good dice throws and Nick says she is “hotter than the car we came in.” Get it?
I guess the dates are over now because the four friends are all blindfolded and standing on a fire escape because Mariska Hargitay wants them all to know how amazing being blind is. They talk about Elliot’s weird date with a 10-year-old girl and then they all realize that New York City smells bad. The end.
Would I Watch Another Episode?: You might be surprised by my answer, but, sure, why not. It honestly wasn’t the worst. It was pretty standard, boilerplate sitcom stuff– you know, unrealistically snappy and punchy dialogue. There was nothing groundbreaking about it, but the jokes were just fine and the actors were all tolerable. (Except for the over-the-top Italian caricature.) I’m honestly surprised it only lasted 19 episodes. While not necessarily my cup of tea, it felt no different than a Will & Grace or something of that ilk.